Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vincent A. Valley
VALLEY Vincent A. Valley, passed away on Saturday, July 12, 2008. He was born on February 24, 1956. He was a native and resident of Metairie, LA. He is survived by his mother, Mary Lee Valley and friend, Aurelie Roussel. He was preceded in death by his father, Vincent R. Valley. Memorial Service will be at a later date. Falgout Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Published in The Times-Picayune on 7/15/2008

Writing this blog has been in the forefront of my mind this entire past week. Some of you know me well enough to know I will undoubtedly share thoughts and feelings about the passing of Vincent in today’s blog. However, some time ago he and I had “that conversation” and he was clear then, too, about his desires. I will add though that by the close of the conversation he understood the reason and the need to openly share – for those of us left here dealing with the event of his passing. How do you close without talking? And sharing? Yes, Vincent was shy and private. But Vincent also understood human nature and human needs.

And so I ask you – How can we not talk of Vincent? He was a Human Being. We talk of horses that cross and dogs that cross, so why would we not talk of a Human Being that has crossed? And Vincent was a caring person whose contribution to Refuge Farms is the very website from which you are reading this blog! How can we not talk of his impact and share times with him? It seems disrespectful to not talk and openly share our memories and thoughts of the man. How can we not? It is out of respect for the man and his ways and his contribution to The Missions that I begin to tell you of my interactions with Vincent.

Yes, Vincent was a very private person. I would dare say introverted. Getting that first blog out of him was like pulling teeth! But when it was completed, his conversation told me that he truly was pleased with his efforts and surprised by the well-wishes and comments that came his way. Once over the original “hump” of putting himself out there for the world to see, Vincent graced us with blogs quite frequently. His last blog was peppered with clip art and really was a work of art. In all honesty, he found himself “getting in to it”, as he said. And no, writing a blog really wasn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be...!

We had talked in the cold of this past winter that he would do another blog this spring explaining his departure from the role of Webmaster of Refuge Farms to pursue other interests and to give himself more time for personal cares. That blog never came about, however. His health declined and his message of caring and best wishes was never published for all to read. I am sorry that I didn’t push him a bit harder for that closing blog. Pushed just a little more…

One of my most favorite memories of times with V, as I came to call him, was the day he called after being “lost in Katrina”. Oh, the joy of hearing his voice! We were in the barns and I picked up the telephone when it rang. He was alive and spent the next seventeen days in his second story apartment with no services, no hot or cold or running water at all, looting and gang violence surrounding him, no prescriptions, and no oxygen treatments. Twice – not once, but twice! – the National Guard banged on his door. And when he opened his own door, he was looking at the end of a rifle. Can you even imagine existing like that?

During one telephone conversation after Katrina we were discussing the heat and how the air was stagnant and heavy and hot and so hard for him to breathe. I asked if he was able to open the windows at night to let the ‘cool’ 88-degree air in his apartment. His response knocked me off my feet: “I would, Sandy, but the smell would be worse than the heat.” It was at that very moment that I began my best efforts to convince him to move up here. We would come and pack him up and bring him up here. He would have a support system that would be here for him but not smother him. He was pleased and expressed his pleasure, but always tactfully declined. Metairie was his home. And Vincent was a loner. V was a true and complete loner.

There were many times when Vincent would be angry with me or upset with something I had done or failed to do. I learned to give it some time and then reconnect somehow – usually on a Sunday afternoon – and talk it through when we both could listen and truly hear each other. We seldom changed our own respective minds, but at least we had heard each other.

There were times when Vincent and I would be laughing so hard we would hang up to save long distance minutes. Then one of us – supposedly under control by now – would call the other and the laughing would resume. One more hang-up with one more attempt a bit later. What would start this? Something goofy like the comical way he would ask a horse question. Or his telling me of the time it snowed on his truck. That one he actually sent me a picture to prove!

In the beginning, Vincent committed one year of support and that’s it, he said. No more, he said. One year turned to two which turned to three and he was still creating a masterpiece of a website. He came to love The ‘Other’ Herd and truly and honestly found friends in them. I do believe that some of the most rewarding personal relationships in Vincent’s entire life came to him by way of Refuge Farms. For that, I am grateful. Refuge Farms was able to give him something meaningful back for his enormous gift of talent.

And amongst the disagreements, the laughter, the anger, and the talks there were tears. I can remember the call like it was yesterday. I had emailed him the loss of Jerry, the Roan Horse when the telephone rang. Having never ever even smelled a horse. Having never ever even touched a horse. Having never ever even felt the breath of a horse on his face. And having never ever even wrapped his arms around the neck of this particular monster horse, Vincent called and cried at the loss of Jerry. He cried for the loss of an animal that he had come to love through reading his story and hearing the stories and gazing at the pictures of him. Such comfort given over a telephone line I will never forget.

On another busy summer day, I appealed to the Management Team of THE FARM to help me with the abundance – overload, actually – of horses “up against the wall” of time. Horses about to be shipped because the current owner was at the end of their ropes. Vincent stepped up to the task and through emails and telephone calls, he worked one of the horses through the long and time consuming process of re-homing. A brief telephone call that evening and he said, “I did it. I managed to save that horses life.”

My words were inadequate, I am sure. Vincent had experienced for himself the frustration and the fear and the anxiety of re-homing an unwanted horse. But in the end, he could sleep easy that night because he had managed to find a match. And in doing so, he had saved a life. Remarkable for a man who had never ever even touched a horse…

So I ask you, how can we remain silent and not talk of Vincent? How can we not show our gratitude for him as a Human Being and as the Webmaster Extraordinaire? How can we just sit quietly as if nothing has changed? I cannot. The man was too soft-hearted and too talented and yes, too opinionated, to just let his passing come and go in silence. I consider this my posting with my personal note to V:

Vincent – I know it has made you uncomfortable for me to talk about you. But I believe you will see the intention and get over your uneasiness. I must tell the world of your journey and a few of the stories of working with you and getting to know you. To hide your crossing is to hide you. And I, for one, cannot do that.

For myself, personally, you listened to me through some of the toughest crossings in the history of THE FARM. You listened to me and listened well. You allowed me the open page that I needed to “get it off my chest” and then move on. You challenged me and made me make better decisions because of those challenges.

But, Vincent, I must be honest with you and tell you that your crossing is reason for me to rejoice. Yes, rejoice! You are finally freed from the body that so long ago turned septic and caused you such pain and agony and to struggle with the daily activities of life. You are finally freed from the stress of meds and treatments and needing supports and fluids and fears. And waiting for the failures that you knew were just in front of you. You are finally independent and freed, Vincent! And it is for that, I rejoice!

So, as we each deal with the crossing of Vincent, I ask you to consider how to honor him in your own way. Refuge Farms will plant bushes under the “” road sign out on Highway 29. The obituary mentions a memorial service is being planned. The black flag is flying. The black flag that Vincent researched and found for me on the Internet. But what I ask of you is that you simply pause for a moment and remember V. Remember him in your own way and have tolerance for those who remember differently than you.

We’ll see you at the gate, V.
Sandy and The Herd

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?